My Life, In Music: Undercover, Boys & Girls (When Faith Heroes Fall)

 

Lately I have been mourning a few “fallen” heroes of my youth. Last weekend I learned that a couple of the Christian musicians that I really looked up to have either publicly come out as gay (Ric Alba, Down the Line magazine May, 2010), or have openly renounced their faith in Christ (Joey “Ojo” Taylor, DTL magazine July, 2010).

Like a well placed sucker punch, the reality of human brokenness took my breath away. After all, who likes to be blindsided by the failings of their heroes? It was an un-welcome reminder of my own sinfulness. My first reaction was to lash out at those who had dared to come down off their assigned pedestals. So I ended up getting into a heated online “discussion” with Ric (Undercover, Altar Boys, DAS). I know that I was wrong to react that way, but It’s hard to face the reality that not everyone believes the same as you do, especially when they had a part in shaping your faith and career direction.

One night I couldn’t stop thinking about Ric and Ojo. Having once believed in the absolute authority of the Bible, both of them now seem to have rejected that view. I was losing sleep trying to wrap my mind around the “why” of their rejection. I grabbed my iPod and started listening to Undercover’s 3rd album Boys and Girls. I don’t know, maybe it was some desperate attempt to connect with, and be comforted by the younger, “safer” evangelistic version of Ojo. But as I lay in my bed clinging to each word, and absorbing each note, God began to speak through Joey’s lyrics.

 

Babies climbed up on His knee, He said “Let them come to Me.”
Little ones believe–Boys & Girls can see
The man said, “Take them all away, I’ve got important things to do today,
But little ones believe, Boys & Girls can see,

And I could see the world turn around
If I could live my life-like that,
If we could live our lives like–Boys & Girls

Big men reach for the stars, spend time on toys and cars
Politics and war and money from the poor
But the Kingdom belongs to a little child
And I don’t wonder why
Cuz little ones believe Boys & Girls can see
God came down and died for kids like you and me

As the song “Boys and Girls” washed over me, the irony of the situation was glaring. My fallen hero had forgotten the simple truth contained in the song that he had penned!

(Matt. 18:1-4)  Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.

So what do we know about the basic nature of children? They’re Innocent, trusting, literal, humble, needy, and willing to give love unconditionally. And unless we can come to Jesus with a penitent heart and these childlike characteristics, we will not be counted as one of God’s children, nor will we be welcome His Kingdom.

Look, I understand that the Gospel  doesn’t jive with our modern sensibilities. I get that, I really do. But I have no explanation as to why God chose the period of time that He did for Jesus to intersect human history. I know it’s hard to swallow, but I can’t tell you why He decided to speak through fallible men and the written word of the Bible. I am also at a complete loss as to why He wants the screwed up “whore” that is the “Church” to be the vessel in which Kingdom living is modeled.

Even the Apostle Paul had a clue as to how crazy the Gospel message seemed, when he wrote this to the Corinthians,” The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction…”  ( I Corinthians 1:18 )

I will not deny that to truly surrender to Jesus one must partake in a “willing suspension of disbelief.” Understandably, really smart people find that absolutely offensive. But this is what Jesus requires of mankind. And If we can just get out of our own way, put aside all the human arguments based on “our reason” and “our logic”,  the Father is waiting with open arms. And if we are brave enough to take a risky leap of faith, that is contrary to all that our common sense is screaming, He promises to catch us, and to never let go.

 (John 10:28) “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me,”

So as I finish sweeping up the last bits of my broken pedestals, I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for those pieces of innocence lost. Both of which are stark reminders of the need to keep my eyes on Jesus, and not so much on man.

Whether or not Ric and Ojo come back to the faith they once sang of I can’t say, but I’ll pray for them, hoping that God will somehow use their own songs as a reminder of who He is. I wish both men well, but I will leave them with this humble suggestion. Be careful with what you say, and where you say it. Even though you may no longer believe the things you once did, you affected the faith of many people. And whether you like it or not, you still do.

(Matthew 18:6) But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea.

 Have you had any faith heroes, or mentors in your life, have they fallen away? How did you deal with the disappointment?

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14 thoughts on “My Life, In Music: Undercover, Boys & Girls (When Faith Heroes Fall)

  1. I too love(d) undercover, altar boys, etc. (always will) and was initially disheartened to hear of these developments – and also laid in bed pondering how and why. I try to not judge one’s lifestyle as I know the challenge of faith and the obligation to love despite the human condition. My biggest concern isn’t how non-dogmatic their beliefs (or non-traditional they) may be – but in the rejection of Christ – and if there’s a concerted effort to undermine Him. That’s a whole different thing than being a flawed Christian -as we all are. Anyway, I’m glad to read your essay – as it helps me process and reconcile my beliefs with theirs and yours.

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  3. Ric is openly gay, but I can’t tell he has renounced his faith. He has renounced living a lie and renounced homophobia. Perhaps that is good.

  4. There are two significant “red flags” that are raised in my mind with your post. The first is our propensity to make “Christian celebrities” into little gods and place our faith in them and THEIR faith, rather than in Jesus and HIS faith. When our focus is properly directed, we won’t feel the disillusionment from these kind of revelations, as our faith is deeply rooted in Christ, rather than man. The second is to do with an equally big problem in evangelical Christianity, which is to deify the Bible, making claims about its perfection and authority that it does not make about itself. Even Jesus pointed out an error in the Jewish scriptures, which taught “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” He brought correction to this teaching, telling the people to “turn the other cheek.” When we feel so disillusioned by such occurrences, as with Ric and Ojo, it is an alarm going off in our heads and hearts, warning us that we have misplaced our faith, placing it on substitutes for what is real and secure. We may still feel a sense of sadness and loving concern for our brothers, but our faith will turn to the One Who will be faithful to complete the good work that He has started in each of us.

    • Thanks for your comment, however I would like to make the point, that I was 16 when I really looked up to these guys, S I X T E E N. Then I would ask if you actually read the post, because I adressed my need to focus on Jesus and not man. I was not disillusioned, I was disappointed, and sad which i think is an appropriate response in this situation. Thanks again.

  5. I have never seen such shallowness in my life. Gee, I’m sorry that your personal faith in The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, is so weak as to be easily shaken just because superman and batman turn out to be Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent after all. Maybe you need to take some time to figure out why you still believe in fairy tales, when others have grown up.

    As to whether or not you should still play their music on your show….Did joe walking away from all that, suddenly make “Cry Myself To Sleep” a satanic ballad? The “message” to the music still remains the same, even IF the messenger has moved on.

    • What?? You mean Bruce Wayne was Batman!!!! Are you kidding me??? Oh no, no, no, tell me it’s not true!!! Next your going to tell me Santa Clause isn’t real either. Sheesh did you even read the post mr sunshine? No faith shaken, still enjoy the music. But hey, thanks for the heartfelt comments anyway.

  6. I remember going through this debate myself upon hearing of Pete Stewart (of Grammatrain) and Roger Martinez (of Vengeance Rising) . I still listen to their old music and just pray for them as I would anyone else

      • From a long time fan of Undercover, and a follower of their lives and stories for many years, why struggle? Did the music change? Did the the message that they were trying to convey at the time change? The music and message has not changed and we need to keep loving them, or the dark side has won. Just my thoughts on it.

      • I struggled, because it was sad news, and because I looked up to them as a teen. You had no heroes in your youth? I still have nothing but love for them, and the music that they created. It’s still my prayer that they both might return to the faith they once proclaimed. I think I was pretty clear where I stood in my post. No dark side winning here. Thanks for your comment.

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